Offshore drilling, England: at Chelsea 1, Liverpool 1

Leave a comment

When Roberto Di Matteo talks about Liverpool being a bogey team, he’s alluding to days like these. Chelsea dominated play for most of the match, but unable to generate enough quality chances, the home side left the game to be drawn late. When Luis Suárez headed home a Jamie Carragher flick on in the 73rd minute, Chelsea was left with one win in seven versus Liverpool, the Blues drawn 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.

The result, however, will be overshadowed by the health of John Terry. The Chelsea captain, who opened the game’s scoring in the 20th minute with his 50th career goal, left the match in the 40th minute with a major injury to his right leg. Ramires, in pursuit of Suárez, shoved the Liverpool attacker from behind, the Uruguayan falling into the front of Terry’s lower leg. Foot planted, Terry had no choice but to absorb Suárez’s weight. He immediately called for help and was eventually stretchered from the field.

Man of the Match: It’s a Liverpool match, they didn’t lose, and they scored. Odds are Luis Suárez was the game’s best player.

It wasn’t quite as obvious today as usual, but Suárez was still the Reds’ only real scoring threat. The focus of Chelsea’s defense all day, Suárez was his typical relentless self. His efforts were rewarded in the 73rd minute, Carragher’s header leaving his teammate with an open goal.

Threesome of knowledge: What we learned

Rodgers makes the right changes with his formation.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers started with a three-man defense, bringing Jamie Carragher into the team to play between Andre Wisdom and Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson pushed to wing back positions. The formation had the benefit of getting Liverpool’s best players on the field (the team’s struggled all season trying to find an attacker to join Suárez and Raheem Sterling), but with Chelsea dominating, Rodgers switched after 60 minutes.

It was worth a try, though. Based on the names on the team sheet, it was worth seeing if Johnson and Enrique could do enough to justify sacrificing an attacker and flipping the midfield (inverting its triangle). When it didn’t work, Rodgers switched, and Liverpool eventually scored.

Liverpool’s midfield needs to create more chances.

No matter the formation — 4-3-3 or 3-4-2-1 — Liverpool’s three-man midfield must generate more chances. With the team regularly dominating possession, there’s no reason not to. While the team is short of strikers (Suárez the only man on the team capable of leading the attack), the Steven Gerrard-Joe Allen-Nuri Sahin midfield is not even generating chances for the Reds’ wide attackers, let alone themselves.

On Sunday, Liverpool crafted only two through balls for Suárez and Sterling, only one of which came from the midfield (Gerrard). Despite most of the possession and 507 completed passes, Liverpool’s attack remained dormant.

Chelsea’s swoon continues.

Be talked about it mid-week after Chelsea’s performance against Shakhtar. This run has all the hallmarks from Chelsea’s annual swoon. Liverpool may be a bogey team, but Chelsea has enough talent to break that duck. Instead, they dropped to third in the Premier League.

Packaged for takeaway

  • Pepe Reina is still out, injured. After his understudy, Brad Jones, put in another decent day, there’ll be increased talk about whether the Spanish international should be sold.
  • A strong day from Eden Hazard meant the attacking trio of Hazard, Oscar, and Juan Mata performed to their normal level. Unfortunately, Chelsea got little from the other three players who could contribute to the attack. Deep midfielders Ramires and John Obi Mikel failed to contribute, while Fernando Torres continues to underperform against his former club.
  • David Luiz missed today’s game with a tonsillitis. When he returns, Chelsea will be facing a surprising depth issue in central defense. While the trio of Luiz, Gary Cahill, and Branislav Ivanovic is as good as any in the league, Ivanovic is the first choice right back. Expect Cesar Azpilicueta (who started on Sunday) to become a more permanent part of the back line’s rotation.

Mexico 1-0 Honduras: Pizarro strikes early to put El Tri in Gold Cup semifinals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mexico had little trouble dispatching Honduras as El Tri won 1-0 in Glendale, AZ and eased into the Gold Cup semifinals.

Just four minutes into the game, Mexico took the lead as they got Honduras on its heels, with Rodolfo Pizarro sticking the ball in at the far post at the end of a scramble. Jesus Duenas carved a ball through the defense, and while Elias Hernandez whiffed on the tap-in, Pizarro was right behind him to finish the chance.

Mexico settled in after scoring, while Honduras tried to out-muscle El Tri, with the latter receiving a pair of yellow cards in the first 45 minutes. There were precious few other chances throughout the first half, with Honduras completely incapable of creating anything in the attacking half.

Mexico continued to dominate out of the halftime break, but they lost Monterrey midfielder Jesus Molina in the 65th minute with discomfort, replaced by Chaka Rodriguez. The best moment for Honduras as they chased the game late came in the 78th minute as Jose Corona made a spectacular save when substitute Alexander Lopez nearly scored directly from a corner. They came close again in stoppage time after a set-piece as Alfredo Mejia scuffed a shot agonizingly wide.

Honduras ended their Gold Cup without a single goal scored. They technically defeated French Guyana 3-0 in the group stage, but that came on the typical forfeit scoreline, whereas the actual game played ended in a 0-0 draw.

Meanwhile, Mexico will take on Jamaica in the semifinal in a rematch of last tournament’s final.

Manchester United beats City 2-0 in preseason Derby

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Manchester is Red, at least for the preseason.

Manchester United used quickfire first-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford to topple Manchester City 2-0 in Houston as part of the International Champions Cup.

The first half-hour saw plenty of action, but nothing in terms of goals. New Manchester City full-back Kyle Walker made a great run to cut down Rashford before he could shoot, while goalkeeper Ederson was required to keep out Paul Pogba.

On the other end, Chris Smalling was active often, nearly conceding a penalty with a pull on the shirt of Patrick Roberts, while also cleaning up after a high City press caught United in their own defensive third.

[ MORE: West Ham signs Chicharito ]

Just before halftime, United went in front thanks to their prized new striker. Pogba launched an absolutely brilliant long-ball, and Lukaku streaked to meet it, heading past a charging Ederson before cutting from a tight angle into the empty net before defenders could recover.

Immediately after, Rashford put United 2-0 up on a cool finish from the right with space after a ball from Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The score is Rashford’s third goal of the United States tour.

After a host of changes at halftime that saw City keep just four players on the field, it didn’t help as United kept on the pressure. Rashford almost scored an accidental long-range chip as his long-ball to the far post nearly went in, but Ederson tipped it over. Moments later, Lukaku thundered a howitzer into the crossbar.

United made a host of changes past the hour mark, and they nearly had another if not for the offside flag raising on Phil Jones after a double-save by Ederson. City had a big chance in the final 10 minutes, as a great ball from Samir Nasri found Gabriel Jesus, but the Brazilian put it well over.

Ederson had a solid game in net for Manchester City despite the loss, while Kyle Walker and 17-year-old City youth product Brahim Diaz also stood out. For United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was bright as were Paul Pogba and goalscorer Marcus Rashford.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea (Romero 45′); Valencia (Fosu-Mensah 77′), Lindelöf (Bailly 45′), Smalling (Jones 45′), Blind (Darmian 45′); Herrera (Fellaini 62′), Pogba; Rashford (Martial 62′), Mkhitaryan (Carrick 62′), Lingard (Pereira 78′); Lukaku.

Manchester City: Ederson; Adarabioyo (Otamendi 45′), Kompany (Mangala 45′), Fernandinho, Yaya Toure (Sane 45′), Walker, Foden (Zinchenko 74′), De Bruyne (Diaz 45′), Sterling (Jesus 45′), Aguero (Stones 45′), Roberts (Nasri 45′).

Kei Kamara goes on epic rant about MLS fine

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kei Kamara threw Major League Soccer, the MLS Players’ Union, and fellow soccer stars in an epic rant on social media about a fine he received for not adhering to the dress code.

MLS has a strict dress code, made even more harsh by the league’s partnership with Adidas. Therefore, players are forbidden from sporting other non-Adidas brands.

The New England Revolution striker received a $1,250 fine from the league for wearing Trusox, a sock that helps keep feet dry and improve grip. Obviously, as that sock is not an Adidas product, Major League Soccer sent Kamara the notice that he must pay up for his insolence.

So what did Kamara do? He first went to the Players’ Union, but when that got him nowhere (“thanks for having my back, right?”) he took to social media. Kamara explained that he has a doctor’s note describing his need for the socks. The 32-year-old said that when he asked the Players’ Union for help, their response was that he is a “high-profile player” and therefore has a few extra set of eyes watching him. To debunk that claim, he brought pictures to show Toronto FC stars Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore wearing the same socks Kamara was fined for.

Have a look at the entire rant:

There’s no telling whether Bradley or Altidore have been fined for wearing TruSox, as uniform fines are not made public. It’s possible that the two have decided that wearing the special socks are worth quietly paying the fines, especially given their inflated salaries. Meanwhile, Kamara makes about one-eighth the salary of Altidore or Bradley, and the fine means much more to him.

If Kamara does indeed have a doctor’s note explaining his need for the sock, it’s surprising that Major League Soccer would fine him anyways.

Nevertheless, it’s likely that Kamara will end up with a fine for complaining about a fine, but to him it seems worth it to expose what he believes to be malpractice.

Follow Live: Mexico looks to hold off Honduras

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mexico is looking to begin its Gold Cup title defense in earnest as El Tri takes on Honduras at 10:30 p.m. ET in Glendale, AZ in the 2017 Gold Cup quarterfinals.

With Jamaica already through with a 2-1 win over Canada, the winner of this match will take on the Reggae Boyz in the semifinal opposite the United States and Costa Rica.

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

Honduras has yet to score a single goal in Gold Cup 2017 competition, but their defensive prowess kept them around to the knockout stage thanks to their forfeit win over French Guyana (technically a 3-0 victory) and a 0-0 draw against Canada.

Mexico, meanwhile, won Group C handily, conceding just once throughout the group stage. However, El Tri has brought a youth squad, and they showed weaknesses in the group stage despite the solid record on paper. They have spread out the scoring among five different goalscorers, but lean on Elias Hernandez for much of the creative duties.

LINEUPS

Mexico: Corona, Pereira, Ayala, Molina, Alvarez, Pineda, E. Hernandez, Pizarro, Gallardo, Sepulveda, Duenas.

Honduras: Lopez, Crisanto, M. Figueroa, H. Figueroa, Alvarado, Acosta, Mejia, Quioto, Lanza, Elis, Sanchez.